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Diablo Immortal: A Curious Case Of Hellish Hyperbole

What’s going on with these headlines and half truths

Diablo Immortal has only been out for less than a week, but the news cycle would have you believe it has been stinking up the joint for months. It’s easy to believe it is a universally hated title – a predatory, soulless creation that preys on your wallet in a terrifying way.

Headlines talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars that MUST be spent, or comparisons that paint the gameplay experience as an anaemic wasteland if you do not shell out the coin. Hell, I have seen the words ‘Greediest Game Ever Made’ proudly slapped on one creator’s content – that’s a hell of an accolade.

There’s just one problem – there is a hellish amount of hyperbole out there.

Let’s get an initial point out of the way: Diablo Immortal is not innocent here.

In fact, far from it. There are some subtle and not-so-subtle cash shop strategies at play that are absolutely gross in every meaning of the word – and I will address those. What I want to put forth first is simply that the current news cycle of mega-dunking on the game is riding a wave of hot air that isn’t entirely truthful – and it’s nothing new. The act of pissing people off for engagement has existed long before ‘gaming journalism’ had its own home on the web. And there are absolutely shitty, shitty things about the game that should be reported on, but are getting lost in clickbait headlines.

Why do I care? Well, at first I wasn’t all that bothered. What has been happening though, is that during my time playing the title I have had people reaching out to me – to educate me. Interesting factoids about how I can’t possibly enjoy the game if I don’t spend money, or how I will need to mortgage my house to get anywhere – to my favourite note, that I should be ready for when a whale player comes and one-shots me in the open world. 

Let’s address some of the hotter takes that have been thrown in my face while I have been trying to level my Crusader.

Whale Players Will Camp You To Death

From a good mate who admittedly told me he had not really looked into the game, he asked me how I felt about pay pigs ruining my levelling experience. First off, the term pay pig is just incredible for how outright hurtful it is (we gamers are a creative bunch, aren’t we) but really it just…doesn’t work that way.

PvP in Diablo Immortal is an opt-in experience that takes place at specific times – a player cannot simply subject you to their wrath, out in the world. In basic terms, this isn’t that specific episode of South Park – you can grind your boars in peace.

However, is there a real issue with monetised players dominating the PvP space? Holy shit, yes. Like any gear-driven PvP experience, there is a clear rift between the Haves and the Have-nots, and Diablo Immortal can assist you into becoming a ‘Have’ in a myriad of ways. While the PvP systems are wildly fun in theory, my experience with them leave me with little interest in pursuing them while the store can boost a player.

So, can a player camp you to death? No. But, they absolutely will ruin your PvP plans, and the game is worse off for it.

The Game Is A Lazy Reskin With Zero Real Diablo Feeling

This is a fun one – and surprisingly, one that keeps appearing in the game’s world chat. People are downloading the game, opening the game – progressing THROUGH the game, to then sit and criticise the game. Power to them, it’s absolutely their prerogative.

However, this is empirically false. This particular factoid actually crops up in a few headlines here and there – it just gets lost in the sea of anger that is far easier to report on. For many people (myself included) there is an incredibly good Diablo experience on offer, full of rich lore and familiar characters that fills a gap in the timeline between Diablo II and Diablo III, showing us what happened after the Lord of Terror and the Lord of Destruction fell. It curiously feels more like a Blizzard game than even the ill-fated Warcraft 3: Reforged did, and within my immediate circle of old school Diablo fans there is a continuous cry of, “This is far better than I ever expected.”

So – a lazy reskin it ain’t. Or at least, if this is what laziness looks like I’d be shocked to see maximum effort.

You Will Receive NO Good Loot While You Remain F2P

This one is a sticky one. There are screenshots demonstrating the loot difference between paid and free players, however they are only from a specific mode (Rifts) that is outright impacted by using items that can be attained in the shop. My only real issue with this headline is how it’s suggesting that you will struggle to get any kind of decent loot – when there are still a myriad of ways to chase that dopamine hit of a legendary dropping.

The nugget of truth that permeates it however is that the Rifts are a much-preferred source of loot dropping for many players, and the slow drip feed of items as a way to encourage store buying doesn’t do much to heat the blood – compared to myself, who delves deep into the new dungeons and raids in search of delicious orange goodies. It’s a half/half, but the headline deals in an absolute.

And only Sith deal in absolutes.

The Game Has Paywalls That Force You To Pay To Play

This headline has caused me many headaches. Quite a few people that had initial interest in the game outright refused to play, essentially because they had picked up a scent of proper paywalling within the game. I was outright told by one person that I would be unable to finish the game’s story without spending money. I was confused by this – mostly because I was playing the game with friends who had completed the story, all without paying a cent.

When I did a little Googling though, instead I found some wishy-washy articles that told some half-truths about how perhaps the game’s progression would be so crimped on free characters that you’d feel forced to spend money to catch up in power.

Now I can speak to this. There are a handful of times where the game does have a difficulty ramp up. The game even communicates this to you, by gating progress until you hit a particular level – BUT, this is easily navigated around. And this isn’t some king-level cheat code to circumvent the game’s dastardly store, beckoning towards your wallet with skeletal fingers.

You just do…something else for a bit. Like other Diablo experiences, there is a ton of evergreen content that you can dip into whenever you feel like. You can even do some Bounties, much like in Diablo III – to go and splat some baddies in random locales and get some gold and experience for doing so. Hell, the first time I hit this wall with my mates, we just ran some rifts for a simple gateway to some EXP – trying some new abilities and builds to get a better feel for our characters.

It Will Cost Over $110,000 To Max Out Your Character

This one. This f–-king headline. It has been linked to me more times than I care to count, and has become a meme to all that even think about Diablo Immortal. It’s spread like a cold at a daycare, and it does my head in.

When I say it is everywhere, I mean it:

So, a key component to player strength within Diablo Immortal are Legendary Gems. These gems are socketed into your armour, and provide powerful effects that impact your character and playstyle. They are very, very good. To maximise them, you need to level them up – and surprising no one, this is heavily steeped in store currency.

So, a particular YouTube video helped propagate a splendiferously hellish figure of 110,000 USD that would be needed to achieve all of your legendary gem dreams, by way of in-game currency and a hell of a lot of good luck.

There is just one issue.

The napkin math behind the figure is both outdated, and wrong.

You see, the Reddit thread that was cited as the course for this information has long since been updated with a slew of details referring to how the calculations were done on bad data, did not account for other in-game systems – and hilariously – actually identified a far cheaper method to level up the gems that did not include simply dumping cash into them. User u/daymeeuhn actually did most of these calculations after his figure started doing the rounds, in the interest of truth and fairness, so mad respect to him for that. He even openly says that it is not 110,000 USD – so there may be hope for me sleeping at night without having that figure haunting me.

The actual figure? Closer to $50k, which is still egregious. But hey, maybe people will write headlines about needing to sell their car to max out a character, rather than mortgage the house.

Call it a nitpick that my real issue with this particular headline is simply that it’s outdated information, but it’s a gripe I have with all journalism. If the information changes, you really need to be in a position to admit that what you initially said is now incorrect – in any topic or forum.

And don’t even get me started on the outlandish idea that some of us don’t really care about maxing out our legendary gems – filthy ‘dad gamers’ that we are.

So what is the take away from all this? Have I come charging in on my white horse, resplendent in knightly garb to defend the poor maiden that is Diablo Immortal? Whomst can do NO WRONG!?

Nay. My position is more one of truth. You do not need a pocket full of hyperbole and ‘creative’ truths to criticise Diablo Immortal. It has a plethora of dodgy mobile-game foibles within its hellish crevices already. Like, what about the fact that the game seems to have three different avenues for Battle Pass/subscription models? Or how defeating a story boss results in a special LIMITED bundle appearing in the store? Or the predatory way the game needles you into pushing the Battle Pass as an efficient EXP-gaining tool, all so it can remind you of THE VALUE YOU ARE MISSING as you level it up? Heck, some of the simpler purchases within the store are still priced in a manner that has my eyes rolling out of my head. It’s a veritable ‘greatest hits’ selection of things that are universally hated across all gamerdom, but quizzically still exist because they clearly work.

I guess what I’m endorsing here is a need to make sure the impressions that guide your decision to play or ignore the game perhaps come from someone who didn’t simply open the in-game store and stared angrily at it for an hour as research for their ensuing news piece. Know that there is a game experience here that is frustratingly good, all things considered. One that I would argue deserves to be experienced by those that care enough about the Diablo series to do so.

All for the low, low price of zero dollars – assuming you do not want to max out your legendary gems.

Note: For the record – I have not spent a cent.

Written By

Known throughout the interwebs simply as M0D3Rn, Ash is bad at video games. An old guard gamer who suffers from being generally opinionated, it comes as no surprise that he is both brutally loyal and yet, fiercely whimsical about all things electronic. On occasion will make a youtube video that actually gets views. Follow him on YouTube @Bad at Video Games


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